DealTime Morphs Into Shopping.com

Shopping search engine DealTime on Monday said it would change its name to Shopping.com, as it attempts to make a name for itself in the merging worlds of search and e-commerce.

Along with the new name, the company unveiled an altered interface, designed to fully integrate the consumer-review functionality obtained through the Epinions merger and improve the shopping experience for consumers with more relevant search results. DealTime acquired the Shopping.com domain from AltaVista two years ago.

“We didn’t feel we were ready for primetime,” said Iggy Fanlo, Shopping.com’s chief revenue officer. “Shopping.com is a primetime name.”

Shopping.com operates similarly to the pay-per-click model pioneered by Overture Services and Google. Advertisers pay to have their listings included in the site’s product database. Results are returned on relevance, while those with the higher bid are returned closer to the top when there are a number of exact matches.

Fanlo said he expects the memorable name will bring with it more competition. While DealTime was able to develop a lead over fellow product-comparison sites BizRate and NexTag, it will now also compete head-on with the giants of search: Yahoo and Google.

“More people are still going to be going over to Yahoo and Google and doing their [e-commerce] searches there,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, which is owned by the parent company of this site.

Yahoo has launched product-comparison search function as part of its search overhaul in April. Likewise, Google has made inroads since launching Froogle nearly a year ago. Froogle’s advertisers’ listings appear on the right side of search results, rather than among the main listings as they do on Shopping.com. (Froogle is still in beta.)

What’s more, the merging of search and e-commerce brings in such e-tail monsters as Amazon.com and eBay.

In that respect, Shopping.com has a steep hill to climb. In August, its 11.9 million unique visitors were nearly double the runner-up in the comparison-shopping category, BizRate, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. However, its traffic pales in comparison to the 15.1 million visitors to Yahoo Shopping, not to mention the 26 million to Amazon and 42.4 million to eBay.

Fanlo said Shopping.com would compete with the larger players by remaining true to its new name.

“We have focus,” he said. “All we do is shopping.”

In an attempt to offer a more comprehensive selection, the site has taken on many more unpaid listings, he said. In June, DealTime looked to lure large retailers into listing more items by offering volume discounts and bucking the trend in paid search by lowering its minimum bids.

Fanlo said the moves have paid off. In the past year, the number of stores has tripled to 3,000 and offers to 3 million.

“The real big volume opportunities are in the consumer side [of search], that’s why you’ve seen DealTime, NexTag, and BizRate out there beating each other up to become the biggie,” said Kevin Lee, chief executive of search marketing firm Did-It.com.

Shopping.com also boasts improvements to its search technology designed to give users more relevant results. Yet the company is at a distinct disadvantage against a search giant like Google when it comes to tweaking its search technology, drawing on a search team of about two dozen versus the hundreds of engineers deployed at the search leaders.

“We don’t underestimate Google or Froogle,” Fanlo said. “Anyone that does does so at their own peril.”

While Fanlo believes the Shopping.com name will help draw in many new customers, the company has no plans to embark on a traditional advertising spree, sticking instead to its reliance on word-of-mouth and search marketing.

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